In recent years, a number of business leaders have discussed the possibility of integrating hydrogen into natural gas infrastructure.
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According to the CEO of Italgas.
“Recently there has been a little change in the vision of the future of the energy transition,” Paolo Gallo told CNBC last week.
Referring to Covid and the war in Ukraine, the CEO of the Italian natural gas distribution company said people realize “that we need everything” to reach the target of net zero CO2 emissions. by 2050.
“It’s extremely important that every lever you have is used,” Gallo told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”
He stressed that the use of pre-existing natural gas infrastructure was “essential” in this regard.
“Today we are focusing on natural gas, but tomorrow we will have biomethane [and] clean hydrogen that will be used to decarbonize the system,” he added.
“It is therefore extremely important that the infrastructure is ready to accept different types of gas in [a] mixing situation. »
Described by the International Energy Agency as a “multipurpose energy vector”, Hydrogen has diverse applications and is deployed in sectors such as industry and transportation.
It can be produced in several ways. One method is to use electrolysis, with an electric current splitting the water into oxygen and hydrogen. If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar power, then it is called “green hydrogen” or “renewable hydrogen”.
Currently, the vast majority of hydrogen production relies on fossil fuels, and green hydrogen is expensive to produce.
CEOs weigh in
Gallo is not the first business leader to talk about integrating hydrogen into natural gas infrastructure.
During a panel discussion moderated by CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche earlier this year, the CEO of the American energy company AES presented his views on how hydrogen and natural gas could potentially fit together in the future.
“I am convinced that we will need natural gas in the next 20 years,” said Andrés Gluski. “Now what we can start doing today is… start mixing it with green hydrogen,” he added.
“So we’re doing tests to show that you can mix it up to, say, 20 percent in existing turbines, and new turbines that can burn…much higher percentages are coming out,” Gluski said.
“But it’s just hard to predict that you’ll have enough green hydrogen to replace it in the next 10 years.”
Advocating the continued use of fossil fuel infrastructure is likely to spark debate and criticism, particularly given the enormous impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
For his part, Gallo, CEO of Italgas, indicated that using current natural gas infrastructure would be helpful as more renewable energy sources come online.
“In particular, you need infrastructure that can balance the inflexibility of renewable energy,” he said.
“The more renewable energy you put into the system, the more [the] “The system is becoming rigid, something else is needed to restore flexibility to the system, to match demand and supply,” Gallo added.
“And this is ensured by gas infrastructure.”